Promoting more robust food environments to reduce poor health outcomes.

Photo: Adobe Stock

Photo: Adobe Stock

Problem

How can healthier food options be made available in rural and low-income regions?

  • The composition of the food environment—the type, variety, and prices of available foods—can influence household food choices and the ability of consumers to access and afford more nutritious diets.
  • Limited availability of affordable and healthy foods can contribute to poor health outcomes, especially obesity rates.

Findings

A team of researchers examined the food environment for residents in eight counties in the Mississippi Delta, a region that has some of the greatest income inequality, highest rates of poverty, and one of the highest obesity rates in the U.S. Their study focused on Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)-accepting establishments, which were predominantly convenience stores across all of the counties.

  • The team used a retail environment audit instrument to evaluate differences in prices and availability of healthy foods.
  • For all food groups, the scientists found a significant gap between scores for convenience stores and scores for supermarkets and grocery stores, and the difference was most striking for fruits and vegetables.

Impact

These findings will be useful for developing interventions in the food environment, not only in the Mississippi Delta but also for other regions of the country where convenience stores and dollar stores are most common.

Research Credit

Team

  • Elizabeth Canales, Linlin Fan , David R. Buys, Marven D. Cantave

Participating Department

Partners

  • Mississippi State University; Feeding America

Competitive Funding

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Federal and State Appropriations

  • USDA NIFA Hatch Project PEN04709, Accession # 1019915

Emerging Discoveries

Published Research

A Market Basket Assessment: Prices and Availability of Healthy Foods Across SNAP Authorized Food Outlets in Counties With High Obesity Rates in Mississippi.

Office for Research and Graduate Education

Address

217 Agricultural Administration Building
University Park, PA 16802-2600

Office for Research and Graduate Education

Address

217 Agricultural Administration Building
University Park, PA 16802-2600